It’s the middle of June, which means it’s time for the book of the month. The Hate U Give is a book I’ve seen before, but I never decided to pick it up until now. Based on what we’re going through right now, I think it’s important to keep spreading awareness while educating ourselves and supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. At the end of this post, you’ll find linked recourses and ways you can support the black community.
The Hate U Give was originally published in 2017, but while reading it the plot felt so present to me. Giving my full review, I’m going to separate it into a few main points, and then I’ll give my final thoughts on the book.
1. The Plot
Starr is a 16-year-old girl that lives between two worlds- her black neighborhood Garden Heights and Williamson– the primarily white high school she attends as one of the only black students. No one really calls her by her name. She’s usually “the girl who works at the grocery store” her dad owns.
The book starts off at a party with loud music everyone knows the words to. While Starr’s catching up with her childhood friend Khalil they hear gunshots, and both of them run to his car and drive off. Soon they hear police sirens behind them, and what should be a normal traffic stop turns into Khalil being shot and killed by the police officer that stopped them. Starr is the only witness, and she has two choices: speak out for her friend or keep silent and protect herself.
Growing up, her childhood is a little different from the one her high school friends had. When she’s only 10 her best friend Natasha gets shot by a police officer while she’s playing at a broken hydrant with almost everyone from the neighborhood. However, she doesn’t run fast enough.
“ We were ten, we didn’t know what happened after you died. Hell, I still don’t know and she was forced to find out, even she didn’t wanna find out.”
Because of what has happened her parents decide to give her a better chance at school and move her an hour away from home at Williamson where she’s one of the only black kids. At school, she acts and talks differently. She doesn’t use slang because slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood”. When she’s mad Starr holds her tongue because she doesn’t want to be the “angry black girl”.
Her character plays a key role in the book. On one side, Starr represents the decision of either staying silent or speaking out. On the other, she plays the mediator between two worlds – the black (her relatives) and the white (her friends and her boyfriend Chris).
3. What does Thug Life mean and what’s the context behind The Hate U Give:
It all starts in the car before Khalil gets shot. A song by Tupac comes on the radio, and he explains to Starr how Tupac’s songs are still relevant to this day. It all comes to the meaning behind Thug Life, and how it represents the cycle of living in the black community.
T – The
H – Hate
U – You
G – Give
L – Little
I – Infants
F – F**ks
E – Everybody
Here’s a video of Tupac explaining Thug Life in an interview.
Starr will always remember this conversation, and one time it comes up while she’s with her dad. What is the hate that society gives?- he asks her. Racism is a possible answer, but there’s something more specific that has power over the struggles of the black community – and it is a lack of opportunities.
When Khalil dies, everyone looks at him as the drug dealer who was going to get killed anyway. However, few people look at the reasoning behind that. In the book, Brenda is Khalil’s mom, and she has been a drug addict since he was born. When she gets into trouble with the main “drug lord” – King, Khalil has no choice but to protect his mom. He starts selling on the streets trying to make up for what his mom did and trying to keep her alive.
The lack of opportunities have a place in everyday life:
1.The lack of jobs brought to the black communities
2.The poor school system that does not have the recourses to equip, and educate people the same way schools like Williamson would.
“It’s easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here”.
Another huge problem in these communities is the drug industry. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry that’s been put there. However, no one is getting rich, and it only destroys people. In a conversation between Starr and her dad (Maverick), he explains it this way.
There are two types of people:
People like Brenda – they think they need drugs to survive. They can’t start a job until they’re clean. However, they can’t pay for the rehabs unless they have a job.
People like Khalil – they think they need to sell drugs to survive. When they get caught, they spend their lives in prison (another multibillion-dollar industry). If they manage to get out, it’s really hard for them to get another job, so they start selling again,
“That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life”.
Here’s another example of the hate that’s been given to young people or “infants” who grow with it. When the police officer who kills Khalil doesn’t get charged for his crime, people are mad. But because it’s not the first time this has happened, it makes things worse. This is how the system gives hate that “f**ks everybody”. And it ends with protests and riots
4. Final Thoughts
One thing I really appreciate about this book is how it touches on many subjects – growing up as a minority or as a person with white privilege; the importance of using your voice; the influence of the people around you, and more. I love the way Angie Thomas introduces black culture in her book and blends it with the white characters. The book discusses serious topics, but it’s also funny, relatable, and uncomfortable all at the same time. It’s a really great book for everyone to get familiar with the world we’re living in right now, so we can all work together, bring awareness for the black community, and prove that all lives matter.
One of my favorite parts in The Hate U Give is the ending:
“Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending. It would be easy to quit if it was just about me, Khalil, that night, and that cop. It’s about way more than that though. […] It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first – Emmett. The messed up part? There are so many more. Yet, I think it will change one day. How? I don’t know. When? I definitely don’t know. Why? Because there will always be someone ready to fight. Maybe it’s my turn”.
As it is our turn right now, and as we fight, I hope years later when I pick up this book it does not feel present at all.
Get the book HERE
Black Lives Matter – ways to help: